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    Creative collaborations: Trish Chong and Rhonda Mason from Life:Captured Workshops

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    By Christina Atherton

    Through their Life:Captured workshops, Sydney-based creative duo Trish Chong and Rhonda (Ronnie) Mason hope to equip others with the skills and resources to document their lives in beautiful and creative ways. They teach both the technical and emotional aspects of documentary photography right through to editing and workflow, photo book design and layout, journalling, memory keeping systems, life albums, and general organisation of photos and memorabilia. Today I ask Ronnie and Trish about the paths that led them to this point.

    How did you meet?
    We met many moons ago at a mutual friend’s baby shower, and then on occasion at weddings in the years that followed. But we never really connected until the beginning of last year when our blogs led us to catch up with each other over coffee, and talk of family photography and memory-keeping workshops began. We were drawn to each other’s drive and passion for what we loved, and found the opportunities we had in front of us allowed us to work together in a fun and creative environment.

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    What are your creative backgrounds?
    Trish: I’ve honestly never thought of myself as all too creative. In high school I enjoyed turning up the radio and figuring out maths and chemistry problems, and ended up choosing a combined law and finance degree because I had no idea what I wanted to do. Through university there came an opportunity to backpack around the world with friends and I brought an old film camera with me, a gift from my uncle who no longer had a use for it. Through those experiences, I developed a love for the medium of film and the joy of capturing people and places which has stuck with me ever since.

    Ronnie: My story is a little similar to Trish's. I grew up thinking I would become a commercial accountant working for a big firm, and therefore ended up studying a combined law and accounting degree. From there I enrolled myself into a marketing graduate diploma and when I finished my studies, I worked from the ground up in a small marketing department for a large international organisation. As I took on more branding and creative responsibilities, I soon realised that my passion lay in graphic design. Through a number of intensive training courses, I learnt to use the Adobe Creative Suite design software pretty quickly and I was soon creating all our marketing materials in-house. When I quit work a couple of years later, I started up my own commercial design studio and ran that for seven years. Even though I no longer work for commercial clients, my love for graphic design remains and has carried over into my blogging and my memory-keeping endeavours.

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    How did your collaboration on Life:Captured come about?
    As mothers, both of us realised how much each passing moment leaves behind as we travel through this world at the speed we now do. We were passionate about memory-keeping for ourselves, but also wanted to share this with others who may not have the same skills and experience as we do to make the whole journey enjoyable and easy to do. We both had a love for the tangible and wanted to teach others that it wasn’t really too hard to make beautiful keepsakes for themselves that they, and their loved ones, would treasure dearly now and in the years to come. It seemed only fitting that our combined skills of photography, organisation, and memory-keeping would be able to fill a niche that was not readily available in the current creative market.

    What roles do you each play in the business?
    Trish: Ronnie is definitely the organised one in the partnership and she handles most of the paperwork and record-keeping. We share the communication and correspondence and keep to our strengths through the teaching elements. My aim is to simplify the elements of manual photography, breaking down both technical and emotional components and putting it all into practice, with a live shoot of a family during the workshop itself. We later teach our participants how to edit these same images using Adobe Lightroom software and reference them again whilst mocking up an album or layout. Following the workshop, I try and have images ready for both our blogs as well as for our sponsors to use to say thank you for their generous contributions.

    Ronnie: Trish does a lot more than she's giving herself credit for! She's been liaising with most of our sponsors, and it was through her network and contacts that we were able to lock in RAW Space as the venue for our first two workshops. She also does all the photography work while I'm the one who works on the design of our marketing materials. Honestly, I love working with Trish's images. I think her photography and my design style are a good match. At the workshops, I teach an intensive crash course in photo organisation using Adobe Lightroom; my goal is always to equip our attendees with the ability to catalogue their entire personal photo library - both past and present. I also give a talk about memory keeping outlining methods of memory keeping that I find to be meaningful and effective to give our attendees ideas to develop their own framework for memory keeping. To wrap up the day, I also run through my fundamental principles for graphic design in the context of creating photo books, and I teach a mini session in learning the basics of Adobe InDesign.

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    Trish and Ronnie have recently launched their online portal, where they offer online classes to complement their Sydney-based workshops. See more at lifecapturedinc.com

    {Photos by Trish Chong}

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